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MANIATAS v. NEW YORK HOSP.-CORNELL MEDICAL CENTER

July 26, 1999

CHARLYNN C. MANIATAS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE NEW YORK HOSPITAL-CORNELL MEDICAL CENTER, AND CORNELL UNIVERSITY MEDICAL COLLEGE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stein, District Judge.

  OPINION

Charlynn Maniatis alleges in this action against Cornell University Medical College ("Cornell") that Cornell improperly terminated her employment due to her age.*fn1 Her complaint alleges that Cornell's decision not to renew her employment violated various federal, state, and local laws, including: (i) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.; (ii) the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.; (iii) the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), as amended, New York Executive Law § 296 et seq.; and (v) the Administrative Code of the City of New York, § 8-107 et seq. Cornell now moves for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Because she has not introduced any evidence that raises a triable issue of fact, defendant's motion is granted.

I. Background

Dr. Charlynn Maniatis is a physician with a specialty in radiology. After receiving a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1972, she received degrees in medicine and public health from The Johns Hopkins University in 1979. (Ex. A to Plaintiff's Affidavit). From 1980 to 1983, she received further training in diagnostic radiology at the Memorial Sloan-Ketterling Cancer Center and the New York Hospital. Id. In July 1983, she began to work part-time for defendant Cornell Medical College as a radiologist. Id. Cornell Medical College, now known as Weil Medical College, is the medical school of Cornell University, whose main campus is in Ithaca, NY. (Defendant's Statement of Facts, ¶ 1). The New York Hospital, now known as New York Presbyterian Hospital, is the primary teaching hospital affiliated with Cornell. (Defendant's Statement of Facts, ¶ 2).

During the 1980's, Maniatis gradually increased the amount of time she worked for Cornell, first changing from one day to two days per week during the mid 1980's, and then adding additional early-morning hours during the late 1980's or early 1990's. (Plaintiff's Affidavit at ¶¶ 13, 16). During this time, she also worked part-time at other hospitals. (Plaintiff's Affidavit at ¶ 14). By 1985, she was appointed to work 60% of full-time, which is denominated by defendant as .6 FTE. (Sostman Affidavit ¶ 18). In 1987, she started her own private radiology practice, and continued to work part-time at Cornell. (Exhibit A to Plaintiff's Affidavit). During all relevant times after 1987, she maintained this private practice. Id.

Plaintiff continued working these hours at Cornell until 1995, when Cornell hired Dr. Dirk Sostman to become the new chair of the Department of Radiology. (Sostman Affidavit ¶ 6). In July of 1995, plaintiff was reassigned from inpatient to outpatient radiology. (Ex. D to Plaintiff's Affidavit). In late 1995, Sostman became aware that plaintiff was working approximately 13 hours per week, fewer hours than her .6 FTE appointment called for, and notified her of his concerns in a letter dated December 16, 1995. (Exhibit I to Affidavit of James Kahn). In this letter, Sostman requested that plaintiff either work more hours or reduce her appointment level to 40%, or .4 FTE. Id. Sostman and plaintiff discussed her workload, and, in a letter dated January 4, 1996, plaintiff made several suggestions about increasing the amount of work available to her in the early morning hours. (Ex. K to Kahn Affidavit). Around this time, Dr. Sostman reorganized the department, shifting from a "modality based" system in which physicians were grouped according to the technology they used, to an "organ-based" system, in which physicians were grouped by bodily region (abdomen, limbs, etc.). (Sostman Affidavit 14). As a result of this reorganization, the general radiology group to which Dr. Maniatis belonged was dissolved and its responsibilities were divided up among the new groups. Id.

In a letter dated June 20, 1996, plaintiff was informed that her appointment would not be renewed after the end of 1996. (Ex. M to Kahn Affidavit). Plaintiff was 46 at the time of her termination. She filed an administrative claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), which dismissed her claim, but issued a "right to sue" letter on June 6, 1997. (Ex. C to Kahn Affidavit). This action followed.

II. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

B. Disparate Treatment Claim

Plaintiff's original complaint, both before the EEOC and in her pleadings in this action, claimed that defendants had intentionally discriminated against her by treating her disparately. A disparate treatment claim alleges that the plaintiff was intentionally discriminated against because of membership in a protected class, in this case, the class is all those 40 years of age and older. Such a claim under the ADEA is governed by the three-step procedure established for racial discrimination actions brought pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in McDonnell Douglas v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973) and Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine 450 U.S. 248, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 67 L.Ed.2d 207 (1981). See also, Fisher 114 F.3d at 1335; Woroski v. Nashua Corp., 31 F.3d 105, 108 (2nd Cir. 1994).

First, the plaintiff must establish a prima facie case by showing four elements: 1) that she belongs to a protected class; 2) that she was qualified for the job in dispute; 3) that she was subject to an adverse employment decision; and 4) that the adverse employment decision occurred under circumstances that give rise to an inference of discrimination. See Cronin v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 46 F.3d 196, 204 (2nd Cir. 1995); Woroski, 31 F.3d at 108; Spence v. Maryland Casualty Co., 995 F.2d 1147, 1155 (2nd Cir. 1993). See also, McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802, 93 S.Ct. 1817. If a plaintiff meets this initial burden and establishes a prima facie case, a rebuttable presumption of discrimination is created. Id. The burden of production then shifts to the defendant, who must articulate one or more legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for the termination. McDonnell Douglas 411 U.S. at 803, 804, 93 S.Ct. 1817. Once this burden has been met, the burden of persuasion falls upon the plaintiff to demonstrate that the employer's proffered reasons are merely a "pretext for discrimination." McDonnell Douglas 411 U.S. at 804, 93 S.Ct. 1817. See also, St. Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 515, 113 S.Ct. 2742, 2752, 125 L.Ed.2d 407 (1993).

This procedure is the same for the state and local claims under New York State law and New York City ordinance. "Age discrimination suits under the NYSHRL get the same analysis as claims under Title VII or the ADEA." Lightfoot v. Union Carbide Corp. 110 F.3d 898, 913 (2nd Cir. 1997). See Raskin v. Wyatt Co., 125 F.3d 55 (2nd Cir. 1997); Reed v. A.W. Lawrence & Co., Inc., 95 F.3d 1170, 1177 (2nd Cir. 1996); Tyler v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., 958 F.2d 1176, 1180 (2nd Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 826, 113 S.Ct. 82, ...


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